om-150x150Osama Manzar is the Founder-Director of Digital Empowerment Foundation and Chair of Manthan and mBillionth Awards. He is member, advisory board, at Alliance for Affordable Internet and has co-authored NetCh@kra–15 Years of Internet in India and Internet Economy of India. He tweets @osamamanzar. Manzar’s complete bio can be read here.

Financial Education & Counselling Across Eight Districts in Assam

A Financial Education and Counselling (FEC) team has been formed consisting of a consortium of four partners namely DEF along with Fair Climate Fund (FCF), the Indian Institute of Banking Management (IIBM) and the Council for Social and Digital Development (CSDD).  The program will educate, counsel and facilitate financial products and services to over 250,000 farmers under the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (APART) project.

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Smartpur Refresher Training 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced everything to go online and this has restricted the movement of people in the workplace and offline workshops and training have been put to a halt. The Smartpur team has not been able to meet physically since December 2019, when their last refresher training was conducted in Jaipur. The offline workshops and training sessions help the team to connect and grow, which is very limited in the online sessions. 

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Empowering People at the Edge of Information

Digital Empowerment Foundation has been working towards connecting the unconnected and bridging the digital divide for the last 20 years and this endeavour has taken us to over 135 districts of the country across 24 states. At the start of the pandemic we had a cadre of about 1,000 SoochnaPreneurs who worked day in and day out to provide access to information, health, finance, livelihood and government entitlements through digital means.

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Digital Jugaad

“What is this?” I asked, looking at a feature phone hanging next to the man sitting in a meat shop. He said “it’s a radio; earlier this was my phone but as you know, lately these phones are of no use, so now it is my radio.” India is a country known for jugaad; reusing, recycling, refurbishing and recontextualising.

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Analogous Cab Service

“There is no Ola or Uber here sir, try to book through Jugnoo” said Naseer, our host in Srinagar. We decided to book a homestay instead of a hotel for our stay because we had gone during the peak of the season and none of the hotels were available at a decent price. I quickly installed Jugnoo but was unable to book a cab.

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Creating Information Hubs in Tea Gardens

Assam has been providing India and the rest of the world with high quality tea for the last 150 years now. Any visitor going to Assam will experience the aroma and savour the unique malty flavour of Assam tea. Among the 140 tea estates of Barak Valley, Rosekandy Tea Estate has made a place of distinction for its good management, healthy relationship with labourers and also for its social obligation.

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Negotiating Patriarchy Through Digital Means: the Mewat Way

SoochnaPreneur is an initiative of Digital Empowerment Foundation to create digital women entrepreneurs who provide access to vital information to their communities along with earning an income for themselves. DEF has set up nearly 1,500 SoochnaPreneur centres across 24 states of India with the primary aim of bridging the information and digital divide. Nearly 1,000 of these SoochnaPreneurs are women; we identify women to become SoochnaPreneurs to empower women in rural parts of the country.

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The Digital Past and the Future

Last December, on the 20th foundation day of Digital Empowerment Foundation, a panel was organized to discuss “opportunities and challenges vis-a-vis digital development in the next 20 years” by CDPP and DEF. The panelists were Ramesh Loganathan, Professor at IIIT Hyderabad; Natasha Badhwar, Author, Storyteller & Volunteer at Karwan-e-Mohabbat; Meera Shenoy, Founder – Youth4Jobs; Manoj Bejawar, CEO at Synchroserve IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd.; and Anuradha Amudalapalli, Executive Partner, IBM Consulting

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Seeking Refuge Under Digital Literacy

While some parts of the world complain about being spoiled for choice, it is heartening to see some other parts struggling to find a voice in a choiceless environment. Unfortunately, even the 21st century does not allow one to consider the availability of some of the basic human needs and rights granted let alone stand with a belief that they, like any other human being, deserve such basic attention.

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Empowering Smart and Service Oriented Women

Women empowerment plays a pivotal role in the overall development of any country besides positively impacting the day to day lives of women. The progressive change in the fields of employment and information technology have brought a wide range of opportunities for women in India and across the globe. The reforming development in mobile technology has brought world communities closer, narrowing the digital divide.

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20 Years of Digital Empowerment

It seems like 20 years is a long journey. Someone asked me what after 20 years, I feel like changing the name to Digital Disempowerment Foundation. The job is certainly going to change. I would like to share here that the social sector or social entrepreneur journey looks very flashy on the screen or data sheets, which isn’t possible without investing your life in it. Every toilet looks clean, but you need to find out who keeps cleaning it before you go and use it.

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The power of community, communication and messaging

Many lost education and job opportunities as life inclined towards the online mode during the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid related information seldom reached the remote corners of the country. The digital divide became evident and seems to have widened even further. In this light, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) launched an initiative with UNICEF called Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE).

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Women’s Digital Empowerment Training Suite by World Pulse

I have been working at Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) for the last 10 years under various programs and now I am handling Digikargha, a social enterprise that works towards the digital empowerment of weavers and artisans. I heard about World Pulse’s Global Premiere: Women’s Digital Empowerment Training Suite from our senior manager. I did a little research about them and got to know that World Pulse is an independent, women-led social network for social change.

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Don’t Ring the Alarm Bells

Parwada in Visakhapatnam is an industrial area; consequently, talks of industrial safety measures and fire hazards are frequent among its inhabitants. Ever since a fire broke out last year and claimed eleven lives, the frequency of such conversations has, understandably, increased. DEF believes that not only the workers at these factories, but also their children, should be provided with adequate information…

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Enriching Empirical Visit to Nuh

I have been travelling to Smartpur’s locations across the ten districts in India and this is a travelogue of my journey to the district of Nuh, Haryana where there are 10 Smartpur centres. Having connected with the district coordinator and the entrepreneurs of the ten centres on call I knew them, however, I was excited to meet them. Around 11 am, we reached the Nuh Hub centre, in Tain village.

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Digital Development in Nuh

On 11th Feb, 2022 I got an opportunity to visit the Smartpur centre in Nuh. The primary vision of the program is to empower marginalised communities in information dark regions to access, consume and produce information online using digital interventions and ICT tools. The district has lush green fields on both sides and as I crossed them I felt excited to see what awaits me at the centre in the village of Tain.

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Country-wide Women’s Day Celebrations

On the occasion of International Women’s day, Kaithwalya Hub Centre in Ghazipur district held an elaborate celebration to commemorate its women participants and its students for their outstanding contributions. Our SoochnaPreneurs also addressed the women at the centre and spoke to them about their rights and laws that guarantee those. After this, the students who come to the centre to learn computer…

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